Bode Matthews, right, poses with Linda Libby, left, at the flagpole ceremony, which was dedicated to Libby’s late husband, on Nov. 10, 2019.  Photo courtesy of Bode Matthews

TOPSHAM — When it came time to choose an Eagle Scout project, 17-year-old Bode Matthews was certain of one thing – he wanted to honor his late teacher.

“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something to honor Mr. Libby,” said Matthews, a junior at Mt. Ararat High School. “Everyone at school really misses him.”

Lance Libby, a lifelong educator, passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack in November 2017. He taught in a Bowdoinham elementary school for 47 years, later serving as a substitute teacher in schools across MSAD 75. Libby was Matthews’ substitute history and social studies teacher.

To become an Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout must complete a project that benefits his community. Eventually, Matthews settled on installing a flagpole near the Mt. Ararat High School baseball field.

Georgia Hartley, Matthews’ assistant scoutmaster, said he developed the project over the course of a year but knew he wanted to dedicate it to Libby.

“When he gets an idea, he’ll move heaven and earth to make it happen, and that’s exactly what he did,” said Hartley. “He is a fantastic young man and everyone was just in awe of what he has done.”

Matthews fundraised for the project with a yard sale, and the 40-foot flagpole was donated by a couple in Harpswell. He installed a plaque at the base of the flagpole, which reads, “In memory of Lance L. Libby. A caring and devoted family man, teacher, and friend.”

Matthews said the thing he liked most about Libby was his ability to inspire students. In a speech he gave at a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the project, Matthews said, “Inspiration is one of the most important gifts a teacher can provide students. A teacher that inspires is a role model, an influence that goes far beyond academic achievement.”

Libby’s wife, Linda Libby, was at the ceremony, which she described as, “one of the nicest things I’ve ever experienced.”

Libby, like her husband, works as a substitute teacher at Mt. Ararat High School. She said she continues teaching because she loves hearing the students talk about her late husband.

“I just love that these kids still hold him so close in their hearts,” said Libby. “Subbing keeps Lance alive for me because I hear all the kids talking about him.”

Matthews said he hopes his project inspires his fellow Boy Scouts and others involved in the project like Libby inspired him.

“Inspiration leads to inspiration,” said Matthews.

Harley says once Matthews submits the remaining paperwork, which includes an essay about himself, she expects he will become an Eagle Scout by February 2020.

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